• Welcome to the WDWMAGIC.COM Forums!
    Please take a look around, and feel free to sign up and join the community.You can use your Twitter or Facebook account to sign up, or register directly.

Is Walt Disney Imagineering dead?

TROR

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
We can talk about how awful Chapek and Iger are with forcing IPs into the parks, and that's true I suppose, but at the end of the day it's WDI's job to give us good stories and I don't believe they're capable of that anymore. Yes, Cars Land and Pandora look beautiful and so do the new additions to the Rivers of America, but none of them have good stories. Avatar's is laughable but I gave it a pass because there's not a lot to work with there and with Cars' I let it slide because the environment is so beautiful (and of course ROA doesn't have a story). But with later additions such as Mission Breakout, Iron Man Experience in Hong Kong, the Nemo ride in TDS (which Chapek and Iger had nothing to do with), junk pile on the Matterhorn, Guardians in Epcot, Shanghai's Pirates, Pixar Pier, and now the auction scene, I think WDI is incapable of creativity and imagination. For the most part, these are not issues with budgets, they're issues with storytelling and being able to deliver something that goes above and beyond.
 
Last edited:

brb1006

Well-Known Member
Advertisement
At this point, I would rather have OLC (Tokyo Disneyland and Sea) take control of WDW and DL when it comes to decision for the attractions and parks. I'm still impressed how they actually made the Winnie The Pooh attraction really feel like you are inside the Pooh universe unlike the others versions across the world.
 

mousehockey37

Well-Known Member
We can talk about how awful Chapek and Iger are with forcing IPs into the parks, and that's true I suppose, but at the end of the day it's WDI's job to give us good stories and I don't believe they're capable of that anymore. Yes, Cars Land and Pandora look beautiful and so do the new additions to the Rivers of America, but none of them have good stories. Avatar's is laughable but I gave it a pass because there's not a lot to work with there and with Cars' I let it slide because the environment is so beautiful (and of course ROA doesn't have a story). But with later additions such as Mission Breakout, Iron Man Experience in Hong Kong, the Nemo ride in TDS (which Chapek and Iger had nothing to do with), Shanghai's Pirates, Pixar Pier, and now the auction scene, I think WDI is incapable of creativity and imagination. For the most part, these are not issues with budgets, they're issues with storytelling and being able to deliver something that goes above and beyond.
Well, as discussed some, it all depends on what their operating budgets are as well. If you design a whole ride and story concept and are told, just fix the scene with some duct tape, it kinda stifles the creativity.
 

TROR

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
At this point, I would rather have OLC (Tokyo Disneyland and Sea) take control of WDW and DL when it comes to decision for the attractions and parks.
I'm inclined to disagree. While they'll put in the money, they don't respect theme or storytelling anymore than current management. They also contract WDI to design their attractions and seeing as I have no faith in them now, even with a large budget, I couldn't get behind it.

If you don't believe me, just check out this joke of an attraction in Port Discovery at Tokyo DisneySea. It has no place to be in the location it is and it offers absolutely nothing but the option to see Nemo and friends.


Well, as discussed some, it all depends on what their operating budgets are as well. If you design a whole ride and story concept and are told, just fix the scene with some duct tape, it kinda stifles the creativity.
We'll see with Galaxy's Edge, but even with an endless budget I don't believe WDI could pull off the brilliance of attractions like Pirates of the Caribbean anymore. I'll even go out and say that Mystic Manor, one of the better attractions they've designed lately, has a lot of problems and they're not all due to budget. The character design on that attraction alone is atrocious and the way the ride vehicle stops for every scene is not how a story should be told in dark ride form.
 

mickEblu

Well-Known Member
Well, as discussed some, it all depends on what their operating budgets are as well. If you design a whole ride and story concept and are told, just fix the scene with some duct tape, it kinda stifles the creativity.
Creative writing wouldn't have cost them a dime more than whatever the budget was for this. Someone they pay to write, came up with this junk and dialogue. Then to make matters worse, not even attempt to keep some of the classic lines, Paul Frees' voice or find someone to do a good impersonation
 

dweezil78

Well-Known Member
We'll see with Galaxy's Edge, but even with an endless budget I don't believe WDI could pull off the brilliance of attractions like Pirates of the Caribbean anymore. I'll even go out and say that Mystic Manor, one of the better attractions they've designed lately, has a lot of problems and they're not all due to budget. The character design on that attraction alone is atrocious and the way the ride vehicle stops for every scene is not how a story should be told in dark ride form.
Sorry, but even if you make valid points, who exactly are you to define what is right and wrong in something as loose (and rightfully so) as storytelling in a theme park attraction? I generally love these discussions, but comments like that are just annoying and pompous AF.
 

TROR

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Sorry, but even if you make valid points, who exactly are you to define what is right and wrong in something as loose (and rightfully so) as storytelling in a theme park attraction? I generally love these discussions, but comments like that are just annoying and pompous AF.
There are no rules to making art, but just like with other mediums there are guidelines to follow. Usually when the guidelines aren't followed, unless done with full understanding of what's being done, it tends to not work. Obviously the ride vehicle stops on IJA, but it serves a purpose. When the ride vehicles on MM stops, it's because they couldn't think of a better way to do the scenes.
 

kap91

Well-Known Member
If you’re not impressed with the storytelling in Pandora, Shanghai’s Pirates, Carsland, or Mystic Manor I’m not really sure where to tell you to look to find anything better. Imagineering is doing some of their best work in decades on the whole. Perhaps it’s just a matter of taste? Certainly the type, duration, style, and subject matter of attractions have changed over time. But that’s not a better/worse dilemma really as much as just different. I prefer attractions in the 10-15 minute range but that doesn’t mean shorter attractions aren’t being done well. All attractions have their flaws, I think there just is a tendency to overlook the flaws of attractions that have been around for a while. I also think there’s a tendency these days to label something as awful just because it’s not how you personally would have done it. So no Imagineering isn’t dead, if anything it’s been getting new life.
 

TROR

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
If you’re not impressed with the storytelling in Pandora, Shanghai’s Pirates, Carsland, or Mystic Manor I’m not really sure where to tell you to look to find anything better. Imagineering is doing some of their best work in decades on the whole. Perhaps it’s just a matter of taste? Certainly the type, duration, style, and subject matter of attractions have changed over time. But that’s not a better/worse dilemma really as much as just different. I prefer attractions in the 10-15 minute range but that doesn’t mean shorter attractions aren’t being done well. All attractions have their flaws, I think there just is a tendency to overlook the flaws of attractions that have been around for a while. I also think there’s a tendency these days to label something as awful just because it’s not how you personally would have done it. So no Imagineering isn’t dead, if anything it’s been getting new life.
Can you please elaborate on some of the great storytelling in Pandora and Cars Land? Also please elaborate on what's great about a bunch of bad CG and Johnny Depp projections for Pirates in Shanghai. Mystic Manor does have a good story, but its story telling method is what's the problem bad.
 

TROR

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
I agree with pretty much all of this post except this, Shanghai Pirates is pretty dope. It doesn't really bother me that it was 100% movie-based since there's so many original PotC's elsewhere in the world.
My problem isn't really that it's based on the movies, but that the ride is a movie. Despite a few good set pieces, AAs, and special effectives, far too much of it is screen based and in such a way that's it's evident that it's not real for me to give it a pass.
 

BasiltheBatLord

Well-Known Member
My problem isn't really that it's based on the movies, but that the ride is a movie. Despite a few good set pieces, AAs, and special effectives, far too much of it is screen based and in such a way that's it's evident that it's not real for me to give it a pass.
idk, I thought the screens were integrated very well with the physical aspects of the attraction. Certainly way better than Universal where basically every E-ticket is some variation of Star Tours.
 
Last edited:

D.Silentu

Well-Known Member
As far as I can tell, Imagineering probably has lost a lot of the imagination side of things due to the environment. No one denies that synergy has been steering that ship for a long time now. It wouldn't surprise me that the stories to be told are equally limited by the powers that be. After all, the more a ride resembles the plot of its source material, the more easily the audience can equate the two. I'm guessing that working in an Imagineering like this, where you are directed to think within the box, in time you really do start to think that way. Especially since it likely also means job security.
 

kap91

Well-Known Member
Can you please elaborate on some of the great storytelling in Pandora and Cars Land? Also please elaborate on what's great about a bunch of bad CG and Johnny Depp projections for Pirates in Shanghai. Mystic Manor does have a good story, but its story telling method is what's the problem bad.
Can you please elaborate on what you mean by good Story? What exactly is it that you’re looking for that you’re not finding? If find it interesting that you cite Story as specifically the thing that’s lacking and point to the past for examples when attractions from the past are notoriously rather light on explicit story and rich premises (though are masterful at storytelling itself). Most modern attractions actually have significantly more backstory.

Flight of Passage for instance (gonna be brief). The entire queue tells the history of the Navi from their ancient past to the present from cave paintings telling of the sacred ritual, to the damage evident from mining practices, to the modern conservation efforts unfolding and how that all relates to youre journey today - both explicitely and implicitly through the use of forensic storytelling throughout each space. The ride itself very carefully creates a masterful induction (for more on this theory see my essay on Pirates of the Caribbean), draws the audience through various highs and lows, and really delivers an emotional wallop.

Shanghai’s Pirates very similarly crafts a well-paced story, that despite not knowing the language, is still followable, has grand climatic moments as well as more intimate slower sections and delivers exactly what you’d want of a Pirates ride based on the movies.

In addition to the actual craft of storytelling, these modern attractions are also delivering on spectacle, aspirational experiences, and thrill.
 

kap91

Well-Known Member
My problem isn't really that it's based on the movies, but that the ride is a movie. Despite a few good set pieces, AAs, and special effectives, far too much of it is screen based and in such a way that's it's evident that it's not real for me to give it a pass.
See this is a different criticism than Story. This is about the particulars of execution. And I don’t think anyone, including most people in Imagineering and Universal Creative, want any more screens than necessary. That being said, the scope of what attractions are being asked to do these days (and corporate mandates) often dictate the use of screens. Keep in mind too that screens look different on camera than in person and the ability to seemlessly integrate projection with reality becomes better and better. There are several scenes on Navi River Journey that use a combination of layered screens, sets, and projection mapping that are absolutely breathtaking in person yet underwhelming on camera. I suspect this is the case with Pirates as well as their development happened somewhat concurrently.
 

Travel Junkie

Well-Known Member
IMO they have simply changed their focus. When you look at the time from Pirates, the early days of Epcot all the way to the opening of Disney Sea you see them focused on pushing the boundaries of storytelling of an attraction. Today they have shifted and are pushing the boundaries of spectacle. They are still experimenting, but in different ways.

It's hard to argue with the logic. Today's world is highly focused on style over substance. Look at everything from popular culture to our politics. It is all about how they are saying it over what they are saying. It's no surprise to me that WDI has gone this way.

Pooh's Hunny Hunt, Mystic Manor and Shanghai Pirates in my mind are modern masterpieces. Advances in attraction storytelling are not taking the leaps they were before, but that is in part because it has matured. Refinements are still being made but not as noticeable. Disney made great leaps in a short period of time, but you can't expect the art form to continue at such a pace. The same thing happened in film. The experimentation that took place in the early days of filmmaking were astounding. As it matured, techniques were refined. Filmmaking felt to many like it was stagnating. It wasn't. It was simply not advancing as fast as it used to. Filmmaking still is even if every movie seems like a sequel or super hero movie. Attraction design is also progressing, but the focus right now is on the spectacle over the techniques. They are still advancing it, but not at the same pace or in the same manor as it once was.
 
Top Bottom